Make Your Own Pretty Muslin Dish Towels

Start sewing kitchen towels - it’s an easy project

Today’s post is about sewing kitchen towels.; because I inadvertenty bought a whole bolt of muslin. Truth is, my thoughts run ahead of my abilities every time. If the fabric was white, I’d sew myself an all-cotton, summer wardrobe. But unbleached muslin is a naturally cream color and using chlorine bleach in one wash will not change that. Back in the day, my mother bleached muslin flour sacks white, by continually exposing them to sunlight. As continually indicates repeatedly, I’ve opted for alternatives that don’t include bleaching. I intend to sew the prettiest items I could imagine, until that bolt of fabric is finished. For now, I’ll starting with sewing kitchen towels.

New starting point

That was the idea before I remembered I had a bunch of white, unadorned, towels I bought on sale. They were 49 cents each and I purchased 24 of them. So, instead of sewing muslin kitchen towels, I decided to inspire you with pretty muslin-trimmed towels.


Double Edge Fringe Strip

Make an easy fringe by snipping rectangular strips at upper and lower edges. Image (A)


Double Edge Fringe Strip; above Image (A)

To calculate strips length you’ll need for trim, measure a small strip of muslin, gather it to desired fullness and measure the shirred edge again. For example, if your strip started out at 3 inches, and after gathering it measures 1 ½ inches, you will need strips twice as wide as your towel. I used a 13 ¼ inches long strip for my 12 inch wide towel. The extra inches contain ease and enough fabric for folding under ends. To create fringe, snip at desired distance from upper and lower edges. Speed up the process by folding strip in 3 to 4 layers. The amount of layers you are able to cut through depends on how sharp your scissors are.

Note: the next time you wash your fringed towel, it will bloom and become prettier -See image (A) above. The strip at the very bottom was washed a second time.

Gathered double scalloped trim; image (B)

Gathered double scalloped trim; image (B)


Creating scalloped edge trim; Above Image (B)

To create scalloped edges, fold strips same as above, mark circles at edges and trim. Pinning folds in place is recommended; it prevents fabric from shifting. Open strip, make smaller folds and cut narrower scallops at opposite edge. Gather strip near smaller scalloped edge (See how to sew gathered ruffles below).


Double Layer Leaf Trim

Fold fabric and cut out leaves as if making paper dolls. Image (C) at left.


Gathered double layer trim: Above image (c)

Cut strips of muslin 3 ½ inches wide and length calculated as above (See calculate strips length above).

Fold strip in 3 to 4 layers and cut out a leaf as if you were making paper dolls. Remember to leave enough fabric at the base of your leaves. That’s where you’ll stitch to create gathers. I cut mine just under an inch–and I used double layers on my towel.


Tucks in Bloom


Make Flower

Use the same method as (b) gathered double scalloped trim above. With needle and thread, attach gathered ends to create a circle. Tighten circle, push wider edges toward center; use needle and thread to distribute gathers and create even petal fullness.

Construct pin tuck panel

Fold fabric lengthwise and sew vertical seams at equal spacing; for example; 1 or 2 inches apart. Repeat stitching pattern in crosswise direction at the same width, alternating sewing direction each time you’ve completed a seam.

How to sew gathered ruffles

Some gathering methods work better depending on fabric type and the sewing machine attachment you’re using. Ruffle and shirring attachments make quick, easy and even gathers. But my sewing machine is an industrial straight stitch. Using the ruffle foot does not gather muslin and certain other fabrics effectively. If you run into that issue, stitch a wide zigzag stitch over a thin strong string. Be careful of the string getting caught in the stitches. Crochet thread is a good choice; pull the cord through the zigzag stitching to create gathers.


Applying trim

Mark a placement line on towels with an erasable marker or dressmaker’s chalk. Position trim right side up on towel; set sewing machine at longer than normal stitches and looser-tension. Ease trimming while you stitch: not so much that it puckers; just enough that it would lie flat when folded and after it is washed.

I hope this inspires you to create exciting embellishments with your fabric and scraps and utilize your materials in imaginative ways. It doesn’t have to be muslin kitchen towels. Think necklines, cuffs, hemlines, curtain tiebacks and pillows for starters.

Absorbency matters

Because of it’s ability to sop up water, the best fabrics for kitchen towels are those that are most absorbent. Cotton is known for its absorbency; and that’s what muslin is. Since I still have almost 29 yards of the stuff, I need to get more creative than trimming and making muslin kitchen towels.

The average pre-made tea towel measures about 27” long and 18 inches wide. As my muslin is 60 inches wide, that will give me 3 tea towels for every ¾ yard. That’s more towels than I’ll ever need or give as gifts. So, until the next post, I’ll continue working on towels and other exciting projects I’d like to share.

Though muslin is viewed as a utility fabric, there’s a whole lot of awesome things to be done with it. Many photographers use it to create stunning backgrounds for their work.

For more about muslin visit here.

Up Next: The napkins below are quick and easy to make. Minus the appliques, they are totally No-Sew.


Low-Sew Easy Muslin Napkins

Just in time for Valentine’s Day


As always, thank you for visiting; take care and be gentle with yourself.

If the Lord will, see you next time.